We hear a lot about ‘low T’ on the radio and television. According to the advertisements this horrible health condition is robbing the life and energy of any male over forty years of age. With just the right medication, or even supplement your ninety year old grandfather will have just as much energy and sex drive as your forty five year old husband. How much of this is clever marketing, and if there is a grain of truth in it how small is that grain?
The first question is if there is as big an epidemic of low testosterone as the commercials seem to indicate. Actually there is, but it doesn’t start in the forties, it actually can be measured in boys as young as six. Boys six to 12 are showing a 24-34 percent decline in testosterone levels. Women are even showing an 11-24 percent decline between the ages of 40 and 60. Men between 40 and 60 are the worse off; their decline is labelled ‘significant’.
What is causing these dramatic shifts? Two causes that are head and shoulders above the rest are soy and Phthalates. Phthalates are part of a group of endocrine disruptors that have been nicknamed ‘gender-benders’ because they seem to be changing the hormone levels to such a degree that baby boys are being born with smaller genitals and incomplete descended testicals. Phthalates are typically found in plastics. Plastic has become almost impossible to avoid in our world. Everything from clothing, to keyboards, food packaging and dishes are made out of plastic. Many of our water pipes are made out of plastic as well.
Soy is considered an estrogenic. Many think this means that those consuming soy make more estrogen, but the studies are showing that they are simply producing less testosterone. Drugs such as statins can also have these effects.
Boys that have low testosterone have decreased muscle mass, impaired genital growth, reduced body hair, higher pitched voices, longer arms and legs in relation to the trunk of the body, and development of breast tissue. There is some evidence that the lack of testosterone in the body during puberty make make a difference in sexual orientation.
Men that are declining in testosterone have decreased sex drive, erectile dysfunction, problems urinating, depression, difficulties with concentration and memory, weight gain, breast enlargement, and possibly a increased risk of heart disease.
Women need testosterone as well. Without it they have difficulty lactating, irregular ovulation cycles, polycystic ovary disease, numerous hormonal disruptions, early or delayed puberty, breast cancer and possibly uterine fibroids.
What can we do if we suspect low testosterone?
Before having testosterone therapy or taking medications make sure you doctor checks your testosterone levels. Many doctors are becoming so eager to help people they skip this very important step. Medical treatment does have its side effects. They aren’t all pretty. They include an increased risk of high blood pressure, blood clots , increased risk of heart disease, acne, reduced sperm count, male infertility, increased risk of prostate cancer, male breast growth, liver problems, increase male pattern baldness and worsening urinary symptoms.
There are some natural things you can do that don’t carry these risks.
- Get rid of the environmental elements that are lowering your testosterone, plastics, soy and medications.
- Exercise, especially using a high intensity method.
- Avoid foods that lower testosterone such as sugar, grains, and dairy.
- Eat foods that increase testosterone such as egg yolks, avocado, coconut oil, organic grass fed butter, nuts, beets, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage), oily fish, bananas.
- Practice intermittent fasting. Include some strength training.
- Make sure you get enough, but not too much, zinc.
- Get plenty of Vitamin D.
- Take herbs that increase testosterone such as Ashwagandha, astaxanthin, and Saw Palmetto
- Reduce stress
In the long run we are responsible for our own health. Take these simple steps to make a big difference in your overall health.